Apple CEO Steve Jobs and News Corp magnate Rupert Murdoch are planning on launching a tablet-only newspaper, according to online reports. Should such a development prove true, it could further alter the dynamics of a publishing world already in flux thanks to e-readers and other electronic media.
Murdoch himself seemed to confirm many of the e-newspaper’s details in a Nov. 9 interview with The Australian Financial Review. “I’m starting a paper in six weeks,” Murdoch reportedly said. “It will only be seen on tablets. It will only employ journalists-and maybe eight to 10 technicians.”
According to Murdoch, the paper will require a circulation of around 800,000 readers paying $1 per week-a number he implied was well within grasp. “By the end of next year there will be 30 to 40 million iPads. I believe every single person will eventually have one, even children.”
He plans on calling this new publication The Daily: “We wanted to call it the Daily Planet but DC comics [owners of the Superman copyright) were not amused.”
David Carr at The New York Times suggests News Corp has invested some $30 million in the venture. However, he also says the final product will differ from current online news content: “At a time when the ecosystem of news is driven by links, The Daily will have no inbound links from other sites, and nothing outbound either.” Updates will apparently be slower than for a traditional news Website.
Meanwhile, John Gruber over at Daring Fireball seems to think Apple and News Corp will schedule their announcement for early December. “The date I’ve heard is Dec. 9, but that’s a Thursday, which would be somewhat unusual for an Apple press event,” he wrote in a Nov. 22 posting. “My guess is that they’re telling people Dec. 9 but it might slip back to Tuesday or Wednesday the week after.”
Reports indicate that the Apple-News Corp collaboration has been underway for months, and that the resulting product will be tablet-only.
Periodicals such as newspapers and magazines remain a prime focus of e-readers and tablets, as they offer a source of prime revenue for both publishing companies and device manufacturers such as Apple and Amazon.com. Barnes & Noble is marketing its new, Android-powered Nook Color as an ideal way for reading image-intensive magazines such as Rolling Stone, while the Kindle’s relationship with newspapers such as The New York Times extends back several quarters.
Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com offer their e-reader software for a variety of PCs and mobile devices, in a bid to increase the size of their ecosystem. All companies in the e-reader market face tough competition from the iPad, which includes an e-reader application in addition to device-specific content.
Even backed by the iPad and its enormous sales, can The Daily succeed? Murdoch is known for pouring millions into business ventures until they begin to seize respectable market share. Then again, his company also has its share of online disasters: MySpace, which News Corp once purchased for a cool half-billion, recently unveiled a deal to pull Facebook profile content onto the users’ profile pages-the social-networking equivalent of waving surrender’s white flag.